Blog, Travel Tips, & News

Favorite Travel Resources

Favorite Travel Resources-Featured Image-PP

Sometimes I get questions about the resources I use when I begin researching new destinations, or for gathering the information needed to plan a trip appropriately, so that inspires today’s article…

Favorite Travel Resources

When I traveled to Japan a few years ago, it created a new level of excitement for visiting such a vastly different culture, but I was at ground zero for my planning. While I had helped other clients with arrangements to see Japan, those were more comprehensive tours with every detail already mapped out by Japan specific travel suppliers.

For this trip, in addition to just the basics of learning about this very foreign land, we were going to be visiting some very small towns and lesser known areas. It ended up being a fantastic trip, with great experiences throughout, so I thought sharing some of my key resources for travel planning might be helpful. Even when you are using a professional to make all the arrangements, it can be beneficial to learn more about the destination and what sights and activities are available.

Basics: – This is an extremely valuable website that provide great basic info: the current time in destination and the time difference between there and home (Japan is 13 hours ahead of Atlanta), sunrise and sunset times, and key holidays. It also has weather and distance calculator between key cities.  While you can get this info at, if you are particularly interested in sunrise or sunset time, it’s just faster to come directly to this website and create a little calendar for your trip. Knowing what time it will get dark is very helpful for planning your activities. I was surprised to find that today in Japan, sunrise was at 4:25am, and sunset will be at 6:58pm, so the daylight starts a whole lot earlier in the day. Depending on what you have planned for your day, this can help you use your time better when there is more daylight.   When you are clicking around and seeing prices in yen, currency exchange is important, and this is the best resource. If you don’t know the name of the currency where you are going, just type in the name of the country and the tool will provide the information.

Destination Research: – I used to buy Frommer’s guides years ago (pre-internet) and still do when doing specific research, but their online guides have an amazing amount of depth and information. You can click Destinations and search at the countries or city level – i.e., Japan or Tokyo – and you’ll be provided with a great amount of detail. My favorite section is Frommer’s Favorite Experiences – one recommendation they have for Japan is riding the bullet train, which we did going from Kobe to Kyoto.   Conde Nast Traveler website contains articles that have been published in the magazine and can provide a deeper level of insight about a particular neighborhood, restaurant, or experiences.

Inspiration: – Quite frankly I don’t normally do much with Instagram, but it’s a great way to discover unknown sites and attractions for towns and cities you’ll visit. Just use a hashtag for the destination – #japan pulls over 112M posts, and then continue to narrow in more and more.

I put in #aomori, which is one of the ports on our cruise, and ended up finding all these beautiful nature shots. Our oldest son went with me on this trip and loves to hike (he has completed thru-hikes on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail), so I thought he would be interested in forested trails I found in these pictures.

While I could not read a word in the posts since they were all in Japanese, I could read the #hashtags, and found the hashtag #oiraseriver, which led me to fascinating information about the Oirase River, the river gorge, and beautiful hiking trails.

I think using Instagram for research is better done on a computer rather than your phone. Do this when you have plenty of time to enjoy going down the rabbit hole.

Tourism Boards – search for “Destination Name tourism board” and you’ll discover a wealth of information that includes lessor known sites, local food producers, and small businesses with intriguing stories. Tourism boards interact with local tour companies, but also restaurants, bars, hotels and venues, so they can be a great source of ideas.

I hope these resources inspire some wanderlust for your next recess.